Jayden Thomas (’21) endorses It’s Just Wings with the new NCAA rules. Photo: Jayden Thomas

On July 1, 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) published a new list of policies about ways their student-athletes can earn money, and college athletes are now starting to take advantage of these new privileges.

The problem of pay has been a long time issue in the NCAA as athletes argue that they should earn money for playing and training all year round for the college they represent. The NCAA held off this argument for many years, claiming that giving athletes direct salaries would make their league more like professional leagues because players would have the power to switch schools if they did not like their salary or go on strike until they receive a higher salary. However, the new policies meet in the middle by offering a way for athletes to earn money from endorsements, not a direct salary. 

Players have been able to participate in endorsements for a long time such as a famous player in a TV commercial or on the cover of a video game. The big difference now is that they can directly benefit from participating in this instead of it benefiting their league. Before the new rules, any money received from endorsements by any player on any team was given to the NCAA league as a whole. All the money the NCAA received throughout the year was then divided among the different conferences based on which generated the most money that year. This means that the players did not receive any of the money they earned, and instead, it was given to their colleges and league.

The new policy is called the NIL rule, and it means that any time a company uses an athlete’s name, image or likeness, they are allowed to receive the money directly. For example, if a company wants a famous player to be in one of their advertisements, the athlete will get the money they earned for being in the ad when before the NCAA league would have gotten it. It makes the pay issue fairer because it lets the athletes use the fame they earn by working hard and playing well in their sports to earn money because they are still not allowed to receive a salary. While it applies to division one, two and three athletes, the more famous athletes are most likely to earn the most money from it because they participate in more endorsements every year. However, athletes of every level have used this to their advantage since it became a rule, and some have even been as creative to make clothing lines or nutrition snacks with their name.

Pace alum Jayden Thomas is now a member of the Notre Dame football team and has been able to benefit from the new rules. His favorite part of the policy is that he can finally use his talent to earn money in a way he likes. “I love the fact that we as athletes can finally use our platform to create brand endorsements and promote brands that we love,” said Thomas. Although he is new to the NCAA rules as it is his first year playing, Jayden has already started to partner with companies to create endorsements. “I have done some endorsement deals already to promote my platform and start making money,” he said. So far, he has partnered with both It’s Just Wings chicken company and PSD Underwear to make ads on his social media accounts as a way to earn money. 

The new NCAA policies give athletes a reason to celebrate and a chance to earn some well-deserved money, and hopefully, more rules in the future will continue to benefit athletes as they entertain so many fans around the world. 

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